Rendell: Pa. turnout will reach historic level

Kristen Graham reports:

6:35 p.m.

Speaking to reporters at an early evening news conference, Gov. Rendell predicted a historic turnout in Pennsylvania.

“We’ll break turnout levels of Kennedy-Nixon, I think, and that was the highest in relatively modern times,” Rendell said. “I’ve been at this 31 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s a good day for America. We should be very proud.”

Rendell said by 5 p.m., there were very few election complaints lodged in the state – fewer than 1,300 of about 60,000 nationwide, he said. He predicted that fewer than 10,000 emergency ballots would be needed across the state.

The worst election scam he’d heard of, the governor said, was a text message that went out to some voters leading them to believe that if they pulled the straight Democratic ticket, they also needed to check Obama’s column. In fact, doing so would void a vote for Obama.

“That was a dirty trick of sorts,” Rendell said. “Lord knows who did that.”

Although Obama’s race lost him some votes, Rendell said, the faltering economy shored up Obama’s campaign.

“Some people will vote against John McCain because they think he’s too old,” the governor said. “Some people voted against me because I’m from Philadelphia. Some people vote on preconceived notions.”

The youth vote is impressive, Rendell said – by 5 p.m., voting places at the University of Pennsylvania were already reporting 70 percent turnout. Across the state, in Indiana County, polling places at Indiana University of Pennsylvania had 80 percent turnout by 5 p.m.

“Young people clearly stepped it up,” Rendell said, adding that youth turnout may stay the same as it was four years ago, since overall voter numbers rose as well.

Looking fatigued after long days of campaigning for the Obama-Biden ticket, Rendell waxed nostalgic about the suspense and ritual of Election Day. When the next president is elected, in 2012, Rendell will be out of office.

“This is probably my last major campaign,” Rendell said. “I’ll miss it.”

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